The holidays are over. That extra time with family – and for some, the extra time off from work – created a devil’s playground where chocolates, snacks and Grandma’s amazing cooking have combined to give you a few extra unwanted pounds.
Now it’s January, and it’s time to join the masses in making the New Year’s resolution to lose weight. While it’s true that only nine percent of New Year’s resolutions actually succeed, it’s valiant to dedicate yourself to that new gym membership and that new and improved diet for yourself. Every doctor will applaud any patient’s attempt to adopt a healthier lifestyle.
As you scour the internet for that skeleton-key diet that will cure your holiday ills, you may come across “cleanses” or “detoxes” as a viable, short-term diet.
Every fad-diet-book author will tell you their detox plan is the universal secret to weight loss. But it’s also easy to dismiss any fad diet cleanse as ineffective and unhealthy.
So, what’s the truth? Are cleanses and detoxes good, or bad? The truth is somewhere in the middle.
What are ‘detoxes and cleanses’? Do they work?
Here’s the theory: If you eliminate solid foods or specific food groups, your body will be zapped into a state of optimum health, eliminating toxins in your body and re-booting your digestive tract. One plan might tell you to stick to only juice for a few days. Others might tell you to exclusively drink pepper and syrup concoctions.
But, don’t believe the hype. There is no conclusive medical evidence that such cleanses are effective for long-term weight loss. Any diet that requires severe caloric restriction, short-term or not, will likely decrease energy, may create gastrointestinal distress, or have other unforeseen side effects based on your personal health needs.
However, the theories of detox-style diets come from the right place.
What ‘detoxes’ get right
Every cleanse has a certain amount of restriction, whether it’s to cut carbohydrates or solid foods. But one thing they all have in common – the relative absence of processed food.
Many popular processed foods are high in calories and low in nutrition. It’s almost always healthier to opt for fresh fruits, vegetables and meats instead of something from a box.
So if you know somebody that was successful with a restrictive detox plan, it probably wasn’t the magic of fruit juice or cayenne-pepper cocktails. It was more likely that they “cleansed” processed food out of their diet.
Even many longer-term “fad diets” share that same fact – the less high-calorie processed foods, the better.
One size does not fit all
While fact and fiction in the world of dieting is hard to determine, it’s a universal truth that everybody is different, and what works for one person may epically fail for another. It is always recommended to consult your doctor before beginning any diet or embarking on any “detox” or “cleanse.”